How To Appeal To One In Authority

By: Larry Payne

I. How to Appeal to One in Authority (Seven basic requirements)

A. A Petitioner Must Be In “Right Standing”

When a person brings an appeal into a court of law, the judge must first determine if that person in under the jurisdiction of that court and if his petition is within the authority of the court. Only if these another
requirements are met can he be said to be in “right standing” with the court and expect to have his petition heard.

Right Standing With God

If we expect God to hear our petitions, we must be in “right” standing with Him. Initially, this occurs when we put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. Once we become a Christian, God deals with us as His children and corrects us when we disobey His Word (Hebrews 12). Persistent refusal to remove iniquity from our lives will cause the Lord not to hear our request. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me,”(Psalm 66:18)

King Saul was a pathetic example of a man who was not in right standing with God. The Philistines had invaded his kingdom. He petitioned God for direction and reassurance in the battle, but God did not answer him. Envy, jealousy, bitterness, anger and rebellion were some of the sins that he was
harboring deep within his heart.

The religious reforms which he had established in the land were just outward conformity to a prophet’s influence rather than inward sincerity resulting from his own convictions. He had banned witches, but when God refused to answer him, he secretly consulted one. In that very encounter, God revealed His judgement against Saul. When he went out to battle the Philistines, Saul and his sons were killed.

1. Are you sure you are a Christian – one who has been “born again” into God’s family by the Spirit of God and by the cleansing of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ? (Acts 2:38. John 3:5-8)

2. Are you sure that you have totally dedicated yourself to God’s will in your life? (Romans 12:1-2) “All things work together for good to them that love God; to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

3. Are you sure that you have removed things from your mind, life, and home that cause you to sin. If you have made any provision for sin, God will not hear you. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18)

Right Standing with Human Authorities

To be in right standing with God requires that we be in right standing with the people around us. If we say we love God and hate our brother, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (I John 1:8, 4:20). God’s
authority operates through the authority of parents, pastors, government officials and employers. All authority is ordained of God. Whoever resists authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist receive  condemnation (Romans 13:1-2). Many individuals get out from under human authority and then try desperately to find direction and reassurance from God.

Christ emphasizes the close relationship between the authority of God and parents in the account af the prodigal son, This second-born son rejected his father’s authority, got out from under this protection, and squandered his inheritance on riotous living. He came to the end of himself while slopping hogs and eating their husks. No position or circumstance could be more degrading to a Hebrew man.

While in that condition, he purposed to return home to his father. He worked out what he was going to say. “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee and am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of the hired servants.”(Luke 15:18-19) It is a beautiful example of the inward qualities that must characterize genuine repentance and restoration.

1. Are you sure that you have not reserved for yourself the right to make final decisions?

2. Are you emotionally free to follow cheerfully the counsel given to you by your human authorities?

3. Are your human authorities convinced that your will is submitted to them and that you are willingly under their protection?

B. A Petitioner Must Have The Right Basis For His Appeal

A seventh grade boy asked his father if he would come to an open house which his school was sponsoring. The father explained that he really didn’t  enjoy activities like that. Later, the boy came back and said to his
father, “Dad, I can understand why you don’t enjoy school events, and I wouldn’t want you to come just for me; but I want my friends at school to admire you as much as I do, and they told me that because they never see you at school events that you don’t care about me. Could you show my friends that they are wrong in the way they think about you?”

That appeal was effective because it was given on the right basis.

The Power in Prayer When The Right Basis Of An Appeal Is Used

There are three powerful bases upon which our appeals should be made. Scripture reveals that both God and man are stirred to action when they are used. They were listed by the Lord when He taught His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:9-10)

1. His Reputation – “Hallowed Be Thy Name”

An appeal should be made on the basis of protecting or promoting the word and reputation of the one you are petitioning. Great men of prayer used the words and character of the Lord as the basis of their request. Abraham secured the safety of Lot by reaffirming that God would not slay the righteous with the wicked (Genesis 18:23-33).

2. His Rightful Authority – “Thy Kingdom Come”

An appeal should be based on the exercise or defense of the authority of the one being petitioned. Esther stirred King Ahasuerus to action when she exposed a threat to his authority (Esther 7:4)

3. His Ultimate Goals – “Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven”

The very basis of a sevant’s heart is helping those we serve become successful. If our appeal is based on helping them reach their goals, it is in the best possible position to be granted. This means we must know the goals of the one being petitioned.

Moses turned the wrath of God away from the nation of Israel by appealing to God’s Word and reputation. God had just freed the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt. Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law which was to be given to the people. Suddenly God told Moses that the people had corrupted themselves by immorality and idolatry. God said, “Let me alone, that I may destroy them…and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.” Moses appealed by reminding God of His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and of the damage that would come to His reputation. “Lest the land from which thou broughtest us out say, Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them,
and because he hated them, He hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.” (Deuteronomy 9:14, 27, 28)

Wicked Ahab won a war because the enemy challenged God’s power and authority. Benhadad, king of Syria, had attacked Ahab, king of Israel. The Syrians lost the battle. Benhadad’s officers then said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” Had they not challenged God, they might well have won. But because they did, God sent a prophet to wicked King Ahab and said,”Because the Syrians have said, the Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”(I Kings 20:23,28)

1. Is your real concern to protect God’s reputation rather than your reputation? Are you more concerned that people will point a finger at God because of a situation or that they will point a finger at you?

2. Are you able to base your appeal on the precise will of God by finding sections of Scripture that clearly state what He desires to do in a given situation?

3. Do you know what the goals of your authorities are? Can you explain how your appeal is based on helping them reach their goals or do you try to manipulate them to reach your own goals?

C. A Petitioner Must Present His Appeal At The Right Time

The right time for an appeal is when the petitioner’s expectations are balanced. When you make an appeal you must have no expectations of your own. You must be ready to accept whatever decision is given. How do you do this? By committing the entire matter to the Lord and listing the benefits on both sides. If your authority rejects your appeal, you have a list of character qualities that you will learn because of it. If he accepts your appeal, you will rejoice because of a balancing list of benefits. Queen Esther balanced her expectations before going into the king. She said, “If I perish, I perish.”

The right time for an appeal is when the one hearing the petition can concentrate on it. Esther decided that the best way to get a man to concentrate on her appeal was to make a dinner for him. She didn’t make
just one dinner; she made two. She didn’t ask her question until the second dinner. During the first dinner, she discerned all she could about the king and aroused his curiosity. She said, “I have a request. May I have another dinner tomorrow evening and ask it then?” He must have wondered all day long what she wanted. The idea that “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” is not completely accurate. You can make it drink. Just salt the oats. The way to get your authority to listen to your appeal is to create curiosity.

The right time for an appeal is when you are willing to sacrifice for it. This is a tremendously important point. A leader will often measure how important a request is to the petitioner by his willingness and readiness  to involve himself in its fulfillment. Moses said to God, “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee,out of thy book…”(Exodus 32:32) Imagine that! God knew how much it meant to Moses.  What if you call to your employer and said, “I would be willing to go a month without salary if you would fulfill this request?” He would know that this was no ordinary appeal. A person in authority will weigh requests by how much the one who make them is willing to sacrifice for them.

1. When you make an appeal, do you ask your authority to confirm your conclusions, or do you allow him to make the diagnosis and treatment?

2. The last time you made an appeal was your authority free from other distractions and concerns in order to concentrate on what you were saying?

3. Are you prepared to make personal sacrifices in order to have your request granted?

D. A Petitioner Must Give Accurate Information

a. The petitioner must know accurate information about the one being petitioned. He must know his thought, desires, and goals. It is for this reason that we must grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (II Peter 1:1-12). Only then will we be able to pray according to His will, and if we pray according to His will “He heareth us” (I John 5:14). The many names of Jesus represent truth, peace, life, love, etc. We must base our prayers on that which is consistent with that name. That is why Christ instructed us to pray according to His name.

When Paul brought his appeal before King Agrippa, he gave a significant introduction. “I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews; wherefore, I beseech thee to hear me patiently.” (Acts 26:3) Paul knew accurate information about King Agrippa before he met him, and he used that information as a basis for that appeal.

b. The petitioner must have accurate information about himself or the one for whom he is appealing. Those in authority must base their decision on the strengths and weaknesses of those under their care. If a teenager who is easily influenced by his friends, requests permission to go on a camping trip with the appeal based on his weakness.

When Paul appealed to Philemon on behalf on his slave, he recognized the fact that Onesimus, the slave, had stolen from Philemon.

When Nehemiah appealed to God for his nation, he confessed the sins “which we have sinned against thee; both I and my father’s house have sinned: We have dealt very corruptly against thee and have not kept the commandment, nor statutues, not the judgements, which thou commandest thy servant, Moses.

“Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandest thy servant, Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations; But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments…that I have chosen…Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by the great power, and by thy strong hand.” (Nehemiah 1:6-10)

In this great prayer, Nehemiah got into right standing with God by confessing his sins. He based his appeal on God’s Word and program given to Moses. He chose the right timing by first spending several days in mourning and fasting, and he used accurate information in his appeal both about the reproachful conditions in Israel and the past transgressions of the people for whom he was appealing.

c. The petitioner must give accurate information in his petition. It is here that many appeals fail. If the petitioner doesn’t have all the facts or if he bases his appeal on false information, he becomes an unreliable
messenger which Proverbs warns against. God has given each of us a vivid imagination. Some use it more than others. Satan has an easy time deceiving and beguiling us by using our imagination. He gives a few facts and prompts us to fill in the details.


A person in a position of responsibility is extremely alert to indications of loyalty and disloyalty in others. When a petitioner has demonstrated loyalty, the one being petitioned is motivated to be committed not only to that person but also to fulfilling their appeals whenever possible.

Ruth demonstrated an amazing loyalty when she appealed to her mother-in-law not to send her away. “Entreat me not to leave thee; or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Servant’s Spirit

Every major appeal in Scripture grew out of an attitude of a servant’s heart. When Daniel prayed to God, he said, “hear the prayer of thy servant.” (Daniel 9:17) When he appealed to the prince, he said, “Prove thy
servants I beseech thee.” (Daniel 1:12)

One of the most beautiful illustrations of a servant’s spirit was displayed by Bathsheba when she appealed to David to make her son, Solomon, king of Israel. She could very well have been bitter for David’s sin against her. In addition, she could have been bitter that a beautiful young girl was serving David. But instead, she maintained a servant’s spirit when she came to make her appeal.

Notice that she based her appeal on David’s word and presented her petition in a spirit of reverence. She bowed and did obeisance to the king and then said,”My lord, thou didst swear by the Lord, thy God, unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon, thy son, shall reign after me.”(I Kings l:l7)

1. Are you willing to set aside your own goals in order to help the one you are serving reach his?

2. Are your requests based on what you think the ones you are serving owe you for the things you have done in the past?

3. If you claim to have the spirit of a servant, how do you respond when you are treated like one?

God thought quite a bit of Phinehas. When Phinehas saw a prince violating God’s Word by bringing a strange woman into his tent, he executed God’s judgement, and his act was acclaimed by God as righteous (Numbers 25:6-13). On another occasion, though, Phinehas took a few facts and jumped to the wrong conclusion. He heard that two and a half tribes of Israel were building an altar on the other side of the Jordan River and assumed that they were involved in idolatry.

Messages were sent through the rest of the nation, and a huge army gathered at Shiloh to destroy those two and a half tribes. Then Phinehas went to talk to those tribes. He eloquently denounced them. After his condemning speech, they informed him that they had not built an altar but a memorial as a witness to future generations that they might serve the Lord. Phinehas then had the embarrassing responsibility of sending the army home because the rumors were false. (Joshua 22:10-34)

1. Do you know the thoughts, ideas and will of those whom you petition well enough to base your appeals on them?

2. Do your appeals take into account the weaknesses and past failures of the one for whom you are appealing?

3. Do you give all the facts when you make an appeal or do you select and avoid certain one in order to influence the conclusion you want?

E. A Petitioner Must Have the Right Attitudes

There can be little doubt that more appeals are rejected because of wrong attitudes than for any other reason. When one under authority makes an appeal with a wrong attitude, the one in authority doesn’t really hear what he is saying. The wrong attitude is of more concern to him than the appeal that is being made.

Genuine Love

Two women came to King Solomon. Each one claimed that a certain baby was hers. Solomon was faced with what appeared to be an extremely difficult decision – which woman was the rightful mother? Whose appeal should be listened to? He made the decision easy by subjecting them to a test. The test revealed which one had genuine love for the baby. That woman was the rightful mother. (I Kings 3:16-28) Genuine love is willing to make personal sacrifices in order to assist an authority to make the right decision.

F. A Petitioner Must Use The Right Words

Even a brief study of the appeals recorded in Scripture records that extreme care was taken in selecting just the right words. A petitioner may have the right ideas and the right attitudes, but choose words which convey wrong ideas and wrong attitudes. Many times we are not aware that words which convey idea to us convey an entirely different idea to someone else. Effective communication requires choosing words which will guide important ideas around the mental roadblocks of our listeners.

Joab was not only courageous on the battlefield but careful in the words he chose to appeal to David. With his words, he formed concepts which could be easily understood. On one occasion, he appealed to David to bring his son, Absalom, back to Jerusalem. He found a wise woman and told her exactly what to do and say. She bowed before the king and explained the situation which required a just decision. The she related her situation to that of David and his son. He instantly saw the relationship and granted Joab’s appeal (I
Samuel 14:1-24).

Right words will flow naturally from a spirit of serving and loving. One day, Joab and his army surrounded a walled city, and a wise woman in the city called out to Joab and discovered what his real purpose was. In her wisdom, she then appealed to others in the city. They cut off the head of Sheba – the man who had revolted against David and hidden in their city. As a result, the city was spared, and needless warfare was avoided (II Samuel 20:14-22).

Right words are gracious words. They are humble words – free from resentment and arrogance. Proverbs emphasizes the importance of using right words when appealing to one in authority. “For the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.” (Proverbs 22:11)

Well-chosen words answer the possible objections and questions of the one being petitioned. Naaman appealed to Elisha for the healing of his leprosy. He came with power, prestige and riches. Elisha’s response was designed to humble him. He became insulted and drove away in a rage.

But he had a wise servant who knew how to appeal to him with just the right words. “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (I Kings 5:l3) With these words, he reaffirmed Naaman’s commitment to be healed and convinced him to humble himself and obey the prophet’s instruction (II Kings 5:8-15)

1. Do you spend time and effort to select the right words for an appeal, or do you assume that the one you are petitioning knows what you mean?

2. Do your words reflect genuine love, loyalty and a servant’s spirit, or do they project an attitude of ungratefulness and expectation?

3. Do you anticipate the questions and objections of the one you are petitioning and answer them in your appeal?

G. A Petitioner Must Display a Right Response If His Appeal Is Rejected

The petitioner has usually given more thought to his appeal then has the one whom he is petitioning. It is, therefore, difficult for him to appreciate the changes in thinking and living which the one being petitioned may have to make in order to grant his request. The greater the change, the greater the time required to grant the appeal.

Moses appealed to Pharaoh to let the nation of Israel go. That would have meant a total revamping of their building program and involved many other natural considerations. It required a great deal of time and pressure from God before Pharaoh was willing to grant that petition.

On other occasions, the one being petitioned purposes to carry out an appeal but either forgets or is hindered by unforeseen circumstances. Joseph interpreted the butler’s dream when they were imprisoned, and he appealed to the butler to help him get out of prison. “Think on me when it shall by well with thee, and show kindness I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house.” (Genesis 40:14)

The butler was willing to do this, but Joseph had to wait two full years before his request was carried out. We must realize that our timing is not God’s timing and that God is able to work even through the failures of those we petition to accomplish His highest purpose in and through our lives.

The highest test of right attitudes is not when we make our appeal but when our appeal is turned down. A right response at this point will motivate our authority to be more open to future appeals or to reconsider the appeal he just turned down.

1. Do you put your authorities under pressure by expecting immediate responses to the requests you make?

2. Do you prepare yourself to display the right attitudes regardless of whether or not your request is granted?

3. Do you visualize God working through your authority to build Christ-like character in your life and realize that this is more important than your authority granting your appeal?


1. If we expect God to hear our petitions, we must be in “________________”  with Him. Initially, this occurs when we put our ______________________ and
__________________ in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation.

2. Write out Psalms 66:18 _________________________________________________

3. Who was an example of a man who needed direction from God when the Philistines invaded? ______________________________________________________

4. What are three powerful bases upon which our appeals should be made?

1. ________________________________________________________________________

2. ________________________________________________________________________

3. ________________________________________________________________________

5. Who turned the wrath of God away from Israel by appealing to God’s Word and reputation? ___________________________________________________________

6. Who won a war because the enemy challenged God’s power and authority?

7. When is the right time for an appeal?

1. ________________________________________________________________________

2. ________________________________________________________________________

3. ________________________________________________________________________

8. Paul knew ______________________ information about King Agrippa before he met him, and used that information as a basis for appeal.

9. What three areas does the petitioner need accurate information?

1. ________________________________________________________________________

2. ________________________________________________________________________

3. ________________________________________________________________________

10. Write out Ruth 1:16-17 ________________________________________________

11. Every major appeal in Scripture grew out of an attitude of a __________ heart. Give one personal example __________________________________________
How did he manifest a servant’s heart? ____________________________________

12. More appeals are rejected because of wrong ________________ than for any other reason.

13. A petitioner may have the right ideas and the right attitudes but choose ______________________ which convey wrong ideas and wrong attitudes.

14. Right words will flow naturally from a spirit of _____________________ & _____________________________ .

15. Write out Proverbs 22:11 ______________________________________________

16. The greater the change, the greater the ____________________________  required to grant the appeal.

17. The highest test of right attitudes is not when we make our appeal but when our appeal is ______________________________. Explain: _______________

(The above material was published by Word of Faith Ministries, Azusa, CA.)

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